Acton Institute Powerblog

Europe’s Economic Cage

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Despite a recent surge in economic growth in the European Union, the lack of political will to reform unsustainable welfare systems and curb regulatory excesses does not bode well for the future. Samuel Gregg looks back to the Freiburg Ordo-Liberal School, practitioners of an economic philosophy that helped engineer the post-war revival for West Germany, as a possible path toward greater freedom and economic growth.

Read the full commentary here.

Jonathan Spalink


  • Andy

    It is true. The Germany of my days you could go bankrupt and the welfare system was a convinient security net not to let to land rock bottom. Project housing is so welcoming that some people even would use connections to live in one of those even so they could easily afford housing at regular lease prices. But with the younger generations thinning out and the older becoming more and more the tax support that once existed isn’t anymore. And instead of pulling oneself up on their bootstraps they complain over any reform that has been applied since the mid-, late 80’s.

  • Steve D

    ** EUrope doesn’t WANT a way out. They just want to enjoy a comfortable retirement and die and their sleep. EUrope is insisting that there exists something called a "third way" or a "democratic market-socialist" society. There isn’t. So, by default, EUrope remains democratic and fascist. They do
    indeed elect their leaders, but their leaders have
    extremely broad control over most aspects of social, economic, and even intellectual life. The EU
    bureaucracy can now trump elected governments,
    so Europe moves even further towards authoritarian fascism. Why fascism vs. socialism?
    Socialism requires state ownership of all significant means of production and income equalization through tax policies. EUrope isn’t trying this because they know it can’t work. Instead, they are trying to sustain the illusion of private property, freedom of choice, profit, etc. while using regulation, court orders, tax/subsidy policies, and social indoctrination through State-run media and schools to effectively control what they nominally do not own.

  • Shadrack N. Kirunga

    Europe as well as America will not very easily want out of their cage as Dr. Gregg calls it. And one of the reasons they will not let go of such policies as protectionism is the fear that by so doing, the rest of the world will have an opportunity to catch up through trade and thus eat away at the immense power they continue to wield over the developing world. As the article points out, these policies will end up ‘eating up’ these same economies and leading to a much more unstable world. But who is listening?

  • Roger McKinney

    I think there are a couple of driving forces behind socialism in Europe and the US. The simplest is the ancient belief that wealth is limited and no person can gain wealth except as the expense of another.

    But the other is more troubling: In the post-Christian West, the majority has chosen to worship government. Mankind cannot live without a supreme being to worship and non-Christians have chosen to deify the State. In their minds, bureaucrats achieve purity of motives and wisdom approaching that of the Pope when he speaks ex-cathedra, if, that is, they belong to the correct political party. That State has become their god, the president or head of parliament their high priest, and the multitude of bureaucrats their lesser priests. Unless the majority repents of their idolatry, God will not need to intervene to punishment us; punishment will follow naturally as Paul mentions in Romans chapter 1. Our economies will stagnate; corruption will increase; the poor will suffer; violence will rise.